Margaretville eCenter put on sales block

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By Joe Moskowitz
The plan for a Margaretville business incubator has died, not many months after it was hatched. The former Masonic Lodge building on Main Street that was renovated to house the Margaretville eCenter is for sale, listed for about half the amount of money that was spent on renovating it.
The Delhi-based Catskill Development Foundation is selling the building because it is losing money and, as Mary Beth Silano, one of the people behind the project says, one of the main objectives of the project is already obsolete.

It was meant to be Margaretville’s version of the Delhi eCenter. It was to have been a place where small start-up businesses could pay low rent, receive computer training, and have high-speed Internet access. But more than three years after the project first began, the eCenter has no paying tenants. There have only been a couple of nighttime computer sessions, and high-speed Internet isn’t the attraction is used to be. Silano says MTC has been so good at making high-speed Internet available to everyone that the “e” part of the eCenter, electronic, is now obsolete.

There were other problems. Silano says the project started more than three years ago, during a recession, so the bad economy was one strike. Then there was a significant delay in getting state funding. Strike two. Then there was the flood. All of these factors essentially doomed the project before the doors even opened.

Meanwhile, the Delhi eCenter, which had a significant head start in a significantly larger community, is flourishing. Silano said all but one office space is rented out, but she says its profits are being used to keep the Margaretville building open and she said they can no longer compromise one building in order to support another.

Its only tenant is the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce. The chamber pays no rent. The eCenter lets the chamber use it in exchange for Central Catskills Executive Director Carol O’Beirne being there as essentially a house-sitter. O’Beirne says she found out about the demise of the eCenter the same way others did. The listing appeared on the real estate Multiple Listing Service website. Silano says the chamber will not be evicted and can stay until the building is sold.
The asking price is $225,000. Silano says about $400,000 has gone into the building. The money came from the State of New York, several other grants, and private fund raising. She says even though public money was used, it can be sold to private investors.